Factors affecting food security


Human actions from armed conflict, poor transport and distribution and failure of governments and the international community to adequately address severe crises and poverty has impacted on food security, an economist says.
Institute of National Affairs Executive Director, Paul Barker, said this was despite the incredible efforts of communities themselves, including supportive urban relatives (wantoks), churches and other civil society organisations and individuals, private sector participants and from government and the international community.
Barker said the 2015-2016 El Nino triggered drought and frost which resulted in many dying or malnourished, particularly in the least accessible parts of PNG, where food distribution was late or ineffective.
“This calamity should never have been allowed to occur in supposedly resource-rich PNG, with its big mines and other resource projects, including LNG production having just commenced.
“Earlier and better targeted intervention by the government, and more timely international support would have helped identify and alleviate the severe distress of many rural communities.
“But in the long term it requires a combination of measures, starting with effective population planning (to restrain growing landuse stress in the future), improved transport infrastructure and communication to enable quicker and better business and economic opportunities and trade and relief.
“Where needed, strong agricultural research and farmer support (to increase sustainable yields and reduce risk) must be deployed, including quarantine and pest and disease control services, effective early warning systems and relief readiness and cooperation,” Barker said.
He said much of this was about household empowerment, both for people in rural areas, and those in urban areas, suffering from high living costs (including rental, food costs etc).
“Improved access and competition to lower living costs and provision of better economic opportunities, more responsive Government capacity and intervention, where necessary, and more transparent and accountable government.
“This is so that it doesn’t continue giving away needed community land, in the form of SABLs or other concessions, without proper free and informed consent and full awareness and community engagement and benefits from land and other resource activities.
“We need to be empowering, rather than marginalising rural households and communities.”

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